Movie Review: Fantastic Planet

On 13 August, I posted a list on our Facebook page from about non-US Science Fiction movies. While there was instantly a debate about the list on our page and in the off-planet offices of WTF, and while I personally had a few problems with some of the entries (or lack thereof… hello Scanners?) I still thought the list was intriguing enough to go back and look for a few of the films I had missed. First on the list (partly because I vaguely remembered some of the art, but mostly because it was the first I found available to watch online) was the 1973 French animated film Fantastic Planet.

Let’s say you call the doctor and tell him you have a walloping headache. He tells you to take two aspirin. Because of your headache, though, you mishear what he says and take two hits of acid instead. Then you decide to look through a collection of old prog rock album covers. That’s the best description I can give of this movie, and I would try to come up with one a little better, but my brain is still a little fried from this film.

Not relevant to this review, really, is that I somewhat remember the art from this film, by way of flashbacks I had the first time I viewed the Codex Seraphinianus. The art and animation not only forms a lush, dreamy backdrop, it occasionally takes center stage and throws out something absurdly surreal, yet somehow sensible, such as this scene (from a version not quite as well animated as the one I’ll link later).

That scene comes about a fifth of the way in, when the Human Ter (or rather an ‘Om,’ a pun on the French ‘Homme’) is still learning his way around the large aliens. This scene really has nothing to do with the rest of the movie except add to the general feeling of disquiet and disturbance and beauty it engenders.

Overall, it’s a wonderful film. The voice acting (even in French) is not always the best, and the plot seemed to wrap up a little too quickly and nicely for my taste, but it’s still one of the best combinations of surrealism and story that I’ve found. I plan on watching this again sometime on a larger TV or a projector, in a darkened room, and with a nice bottle of the psychoactive beverage of my choice.

Production: 5/5

Story: 3/5

WTFs: 4/5

Recommend if you like: Dalí, Garcia Marquez, Twice Upon a Time, and if you thought Heavy Metal spent too much time on zero-gravity boobs to really focus on the wonderful surreal aspects of its universe.

Full movie (with Greek subtitles) on Vimeo. (There are versions in English and French on YouTube, but this was the cleanest print that I found.)

Got a movie you think we should review/ recommend? Leave a comment.

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